Fertility doctors using a controversial technique developed to eliminate inherited disease have helped a woman deliver the first baby with three genetic parents.
Five-month-old Abrahim Hassan’s Jordanian mother was treated by an American team in Mexico.
He was conceived from an egg containing nuclear DNA from his mother and father, and mitochondrial DNA from a “second mother” – an unknown female donor.
The aim was to replace defective mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that may have condemned Abrahim to Leigh syndrome, a fatal disorder affecting the developing nervous system.
Mitochondrial DNA is housed in the tiny rod-like “batteries” in cells that supply energy, and is passed down through the generations by mothers.
So far only the UK has given an official stamp of legal approval to the technique employed by the American doctors.
But the US team moved ahead by achieving the first live birth involving mitochondrial replacement.
Dr Dusko Ilic, an expert from King’s College London, told New Scientist magazine, which carries an exclusive report of the birth in its latest issue: “This is great news and a huge deal. It’s revolutionary.”
Inherited mitochondrial diseases include devastating conditions that result in poor growth, muscle weakness, loss of co-ordination, seizures, vision and hearing problems, learning disabilities and organ failure. It is estimated that one in 4,000 people has an incurable mitochondrial disease.